Former Arsenal fire chief pleads guilty to filing false claim

The former fire chief at the Pine Bluff Arsenal pleaded guilty to a federal charge alleging he filed false paperwork with the government to collect overtime pay for time he did not work.

U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer said Thomas James Braumuller, 54, collected $133,974.45 in overtime pay from January 2009 to March 2011.

At the plea hearing before federal Judge Leon Holmes on Thursday, Braumuller admitted that, while as fire chief, he falsified some of his time and attendance records by reporting overtime that he did not work and used the money to pay medical bills and other personal expenses.

“It is a travesty that someone holding a position of leadership would lie for his own personal gain,” Thyer said in a press release. “Thankfully, this is an aberration and not the norm for federal employees. There are many dedicated federal employees who work hard every day and honestly earn their publicly funded salaries. For those who choose to cheat the taxpayers, as in this case, we will hold them accountable for their dishonesty.”

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Braumuller agreed to pay $58,594 in restitution to the government.

Braumuller had been a firefighter with the Department of Defense since 1988. He began working at the Pine Bluff Arsenal Fire Department in May 2004 and was promoted to chief in 2006.

As chief, Braumuller received approximately $115,000 in base salary annually, not including unscheduled over time. He resigned from the position of fire chief in March 2011.

He could be sentenced to up to five years in a federal prison and be fined up to $250,000.

He was released on his own recognizance pending sentencing which will be set at a later date.